Grandfather's Dance (Sarah, Plain and Tall Series #5)
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Grandfather's Dance (Sarah, Plain and Tall Series #5)

4.1 6
by Patricia MacLachlan

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Did Mama sing every day? Caleb asks his sister Anna. Every-single-day, she answers. Papa sang, too.

Their mother died after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from one Sara Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine. Papa, Ana, and Caleb write back

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Did Mama sing every day? Caleb asks his sister Anna. Every-single-day, she answers. Papa sang, too.

Their mother died after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from one Sara Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine. Papa, Ana, and Caleb write back. Caleb asks if she sings.

Sarah desides to come for a month. She writes Papa: I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall, and Tell them I sing. Anna and Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she like them? Will she stay?

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
An exquisite, sometimes painfully touching tale.
Publishers Weekly
MacLachlan's poignant fifth novel in the cycle that began with Sarah, Plain and Tall brings to a close the story of the mail-order bride from Maine. Now deeply ensconced in her prairie home, Sarah helps Anna to plan a wedding of her own, an occasion for bringing together many of the characters from the previous books. Caleb returns from school, and Sarah's brother, William, plus the aunts who gave Sarah (then pregnant with Cassie) safe harbor during the drought in Skylark, travel from Maine. Cassie, now in fourth grade, once again narrates. Her observations, both written and spoken, read like poetry. Though Cassie dreaded the new baby's arrival in More Perfect than the Moon, she confesses her love for her now-toddler brother, Jack ("His hand was tiny and warm in my hand"). But the real story here chronicles the relationship between Jack and "Boppa," the boy's special name for his grandfather (who returned to the family in Caleb's Story). MacLachlan uncannily captures the bond between the two, one at the beginning of life, one nearing the end. Ironically, the author's most stunning example of their connection comes when Grandfather loses his temper with Jack, and the man's wordless apology gives the novel its name. MacLachlan's concluding novel ultimately celebrates the dance of life. Grandfather's is one example, Anna's wedding to Justin another, with its echoes of Sarah's to Jacob-bringing readers full circle. Those who have followed Sarah from the start will feel that the characters live on long past the final page. Ages 8-10. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-This conclusion of the "Sarah, Plain and Tall" stories gathers the whole cast of characters for a prairie wedding. Changes in the family are reflected in the changing times; Papa goes to town to buy a car to transport his guests. Fourth-grade Cassie narrates the tale of welcoming the relatives and preparing the celebration for her sister, Anna. But her focus isn't on the bride and groom. Partly, she ponders why people would want to get married; her dream companion would be one of her dogs. She closely observes Grandfather and Jack, the oldest and youngest members of the family. Their special bond shows up in the way Jack talks, walks, and behaves like Grandfather. Cassie observes how Grandfather is preparing for death. Even the sad ending highlights the story's overall theme of family ties as they weave through generations. MacLachlan maneuvers the reminders of previous plots fairly gracefully, allowing the book to stand on its own. As before, her beautifully straightforward language reflects the manner of the hardworking people of the Great Plains. Although at a reading level for early chapter-book readers, this story's themes make it appropriate as well for upper elementary readers.-Pat Leach, Lincoln City Libraries, NE Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The beloved story of Sarah and her family concludes with a touching marriage and a final farewell. Cassie Witting's older sister Anna is getting married and Cassie just doesn't get it. "I don't love anyone for marrying...except for (dogs) Lottie and Nick." Cassie thinks marrying a dog would be just about perfect. Everyone seems to have someone. Baby brother Jack shadows his beloved Boppa, Mama has Papa, the elderly Aunts, just arrived from Maine, have each other and Anna has Justin. When Cassie reads her journal to Grandfather, detailing her imaginary canine marriage, he encourages her to act out her wedding with the real dog, just in case he's not there for her real wedding. Cassie knows what he means, but does not like to think about all the pills Grandfather has to take or how tired he seems to get. She just likes to watch his funny little jig and marvel at the connection between Jack and Boppa. MacLachlan tells the story of love and loss with the same clear, sensible prose that punctuate the other terrific stories in this series. Cassie and Jack will never forget their grandfather and neither will readers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sarah, Plain and Tall Series, #5
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.51(d)
450L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Did: Mama sing every day?" asked Caleb. "Every-single-day? " He sat dose to the fire, his chin in his hand. It was dusk, and the dogs lay beside him on the warm, hearthstones.

"Every-single-day," I told him for the second time this week. For the twentieth time this month. The hundredth time this year? And the past few years?

"And did Papa sing, too?"

"Yes. Papa sang, too. Don't get so close, Caleb. You'll heat up."

He, pushed his chair back. It made a hollow scraping sound on the hearthstones, and the dogs stirred. Lottie, muff and black, wagged her tail and lifted her head., Nick slept on.

I turned the bread dough over and over on the marble slab on the kitchen table.

"Well, Papa doesn't sing anymore," said Caleb very softly. A log broke apart and crackled in the fireplace. He looked up at me. "What did I look like when I was born?"

"You didn't have any clothes on," I told him.

I know that," he said.

"You looked like this." I held the bread dough up in a round pale ball.

"I had hair, " said Caleb seriously.

"Not enough to talk about," I said.

"And she named me Caleb," he went on, filling in the old familiar story.

"I would have named you Troublesome,"' I said, making Caleb smile.

"And Mama handed me to you in the yellow blanket and said . . ." He waited for me to finish the story. "And said ... ? "

I sighed. "And Mama said, 'Isn't he beautiful, Anna? I "

"And I was," Caleb finished.

Caleb thought the story was over, and 1, didn't tell him what I had really thought. He was homely and plain, and he had a terrible holler and ahorrid smell. But these were not the worst of him. Mama died the next morning. That was the worst thing about Caleb.

"Isn't he beautiful, Anna? " Her last words to me, I had gone to bed thinking how wretched he looked. And I forgot to say good night.

I wiped my hands on my apron and went to the window. Outside, the prairie reached out and touched the places where the sky came down. Though winter was -nearly over, there were patches of -snow and ice everywhere. I looked at the long dirt road that crawled across the plains, remembering the morning that Mama had died, cruel and sunny. They had come for her in a wagon and, taken her away to be buried. And then the cousins and aunts and uncles had come and tried to fill up the house. But they couldn't.

Slowly, one, by one, they left. And then the days seemed long and dark like winter days, even though it wasn't winter. And Papa didn't sing.

Sarah, Plain and Tall. Copyright © by Patricia MacLachlan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless books for young readers, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal. Her novels for young readers include Arthur, For the Very First Time; The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt; Skylark; Caleb’s Story; More Perfect than the Moon; Grandfather’s Dance; Word After Word After Word; Kindred Souls; and The Truth of Me; she is also the author of many beloved picture books, many of which she cowrote with her daughter, Emily. She lives with her husband and two border terriers in Williamsburg, Massachusetts.

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Grandfather's Dance 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Good book as the series comes to an end with the wedding of Anna. Everyone prepares as Sarah's family are visiting. Near the end it gets sad. Still, recommend the other books as this one too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She struggled underneath him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago